tv The Last Word MSNBC January 25, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am EST
rates. this president has changed. and he said tonight that he wants to look at that and move in that direction. hel do anything to create jobs at this point. >> when is the last time a politician profited by attacking ireland? which ryan did. >> all right. all right. i'm going to wrap us for this hour. i want to say thank you to chris matthews, ed schultz, lawrence o'donnell, and eugene robinson. "the last word" starts now. >> what did he say about our country? mr. speaker, the president of the united states! >> president obama gives his second state of the union address to the congress and to millions of voters eagerly waiting to hear what he would say. >> the state of our union is strong. >> the house chamber looks very different from the last time the president visited. >> the joint session will come
to order. >> the joint session will come to order. >> the president faced a house chamber with one empty seat. >> we are mindful of the empty chair in this chamber. we pray for the health of our colleague and friend gabby giffords. >> control of congress is split but dozens of republicans and democrats cross the aisle to sit together. >> many of them choosing to forego the traditional segreg e segregated seating by party. >> what comes of this moment is up to us. >> but the real mission for the president, remind the people of his accomplishments. >> i've ordered a review of government regulations. we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees. it's why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients. >> and deliver a message for the future. >> this is our generation's sputnik moment. we'll invest in biomedical research, information
technology, and especially clean energy technology. >> on jobs. >> the competition for jobs is real. but this shouldn't discourage us. >> on the economy. >> the stock market has come roaring back. corporate profits are up. the economy is growing again. >> on government spending. >> will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since dwight eisenhower was president. >> on encouraging america to innovate. >> in america, innovation doesn't just change our lives. it is how we make our living. >> on the security of our nation. >> no one rival super powers is aligned against us. i am prepared to work with republicans and democrats to protect our borders. new laws will only pass with support from democrats and republicans. god bless you. and may god bless the united states of america. >> good evening from new york. i'm lawrence o'donnell on this
special late live edition of "the last word." president obama began his state of the union address by congratulating the members of the 112th congress. new speaker john boehner, and acknowledging the empty chair reserved for congresswoman gabby giffords. giffords and her husband mark kelley held hands while watching the address from her hospital room in houston. the president did not mention anything, not a word, about gun or ammunition control, a disappointment to many, but he did remind us why the tragedy in tucson gave us all pause. >> amid all the noise and passion and rancor of our public debate, tucson reminded us that no matter who we are, or where we come from, each of us is part of something greater, something more consequential than party or political preference. we are part of the american family.
we believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people. and we share common hopes and a common creed, that the dreams of a little girl in tucson are not so different than those of our own children. that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled. that, too, is what sets us apart as a nation. now, by itself, the simple recognition won't usher in a new era of cooperation. what comes of this moment is up to us. what comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight but whether we can work together tomorrow. >> president obama focused on the word "future." that was mentioned 15 times urging innovation and
competition. he named several ways he would invest in the future in his coming budget. >> we'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology. an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people. and to help pay for it, i'm asking congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. i don't know if you've noticed but they're doing just fine on their own. so instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's. >> in addition to defending his health care reform, saying let's fix what needs fixing and move
forward, president obama also addressed immigration reform. >> today there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not american citizens. some are the children of undocumented workers, who have nothing to do with the actions of their parents. they grew up as americans and pledge allegiance to our flag and yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities but as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. it makes no sense. now i strongly believe that we should take on once and for all the issue of illegal immigration. and i am prepared to work with republicans and democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws, and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.
>> house budget committee chair congressman paul ryan of wisconsin gave the official republican response as expected he attacked the health care reform bill and blamed the president for the country's debt. >> whether sold as stimulus or repackaged as investment their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much, taxes too much, and spends too much in order to do too much. and during the last two years, that is exactly what we have gotten. along with record deficits and debt. to the point where the president is now urging congress to increase the debt limit. we believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. we hold to a couple simple convictions. endless borrowing is not a strategy. spending cuts have to come first depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked. it won't work now.
we need to chart a new course. >> and then there was the tea party's response from congresswoman michele bachmann. she seemed to miss the president's point on energy. >> for two years president obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make this evening. yet, still, we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices, and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing. well, here are a few suggestions for fixing our economy. the president could stop the epa from imposing a job destroying cap and trade system. the president could support a balanced budget amendment. the president could agree to an energy policy that increases american energy production and reduces our dependence on foreign poil. >> we're not quite sure who to blame but she did look at the wrong camera throughout her speech. joining me now david axelrod. thank you for making the time to
join us. >> am i looking at the right came camera? you're doing just fine. we only have one. here is the math i don't understand. the president proposes a discretionary spending freeze and then goes on to talk about the new and additional investments he wants to make. wouldn't that have to come within the category that he also wants to freeze? >> yes. that's why some, there will have to be cuts, lawrence, in order to make room for the investments he wants to make. understand that some of the -- we are interested in leveraging these investments bai yun leashing the creaty and innovation of the american people. if you look at the race to the top program as a model for example as the president said tonight for just 1% of the total education spending that's done in the country we were able to encourage states and local school districts to raise standards and raise the quality and level of teaching in 40
different states. that wasn't a top down kind of command and control initiative and it wasn't done with huge amounts of money. what he wants to do is take discreet amounts of money and use them to leverage a great deal of change and a great deal of ferment in the country and unleash the genius of the american people, the industry of the american people, and so we will have to offset those things and that's why, look, the republicans say they want to cut spending. we want to cut spending. the president is going to and is going to submit a budget in the next few weeks. some areas like education will see an increase. other areas will see decreases. that is what a freeze is about. >> in addition the president did propose a revenue raiser to help pay for these things which is the top income tax bracket which he would like to revisit and raise the four points back up to where it was in the 199 os. as you know the constitution requires all tax bills originate in the house of representatives. how do you get a tax increase in
that top tax bracket out of a republican house of representatives? >> i think the american people have strong feelings about this, lawrence. and that will ent near this discussion. but if we're going to have a serious and adult discussion about how we deal with this long term debt issue then certainly that has to be part of the discussion. all the cuts, with all the cuts the republicans are talking about they are virtually wiped out by the continuance of these high end tax cuts so they would trade all the cuts they make and all the domestic spending and instead invest it in the wealthy and that is exactly what the president addressed tonight. we have to make intelligent choices. ones that allow us to grow as a country. it's not about as he said punishing the wealthy but about -- and punishing their success but about making america successful. >> david, congressman ryan made a veiled reference to protecting
people at or near retirement in terms of what we presume he means is social security benefits and possibly medicare but it seems to me that he is very deliberately hiding what his plan actually involves, which is the elimination of medicare as we know it and the elimination of social security as we know it certainly for everyone 55 and younger that not only would -- means the programs wouldn't work but the government would lose a tremendous amount of revenue in this process and that's part of how the republican plan would actually bankrupt the government. how long do you think the republicans can continue on playing this game pretending they have a plan without being willing to ever discuss the specifics of the plan? >> well, i think we're coming to an end. i think everybody has to turn their cards over. now the president is going to introduce his budget in the next couple of weeks. we're going to make clear exactly how we achieve the goals that he articulated tonight and we're going to ask that the republicans, if they have a different idea, tell us exactly what that means.
it's not enough to -- it's not enough to offer goals and bromides and slogans. we need to get specific and the american people need to know exactly what the implications of these decisions are. >> david axelrod thank you very much for finding time for us on this busy day. >> lawrence, good to be with you. >> joining me now, california democrat senator barbara boxer and her date for the prom tonight at the state of the union, florida republican congressman john micah. all right, kids. how did it go the two of you getting together to sit together at this state of the union address? >> you know, what happens in the house chamber stays in the house chamber. >> all right. >> my wife is very happy right now. >> and yes. she was up there and we were waving. >> and how did you end up together? who called who? how did it work? >> i think you asked me for the date didn't you? >> well, what happened -- >> we were talking earlier. >> a little argument about this. i think john said it as a joke to one of his staffers and said well maybe the two of them could
sit together because we're working on the highway bill together. and i thought absolutely. that's a great idea. so i did admit that i -- i was grateful for the invitation. >> tell us how it went. how do you think this affected the way the speech was received and each of you, your personal experience in the chamber tonight? >> well, you're always thrilled to be in the chamber and the president no matter what party. we were just talking that it's a very special occasion for the country and for the congress and he sets out his agenda and then we come back as he said and then we'll sort it all out. but it was a good evening and bipartisan. now a little bit somber because of the events with our colleague but we all, i think everybody wants to do better and get people working and that's the main focus of his address. >> i think so.
and, you know, i've been in that chamber for five different presidents and every one of those speeches is so fascinating. and most of the time very inspiring. i don't know whether john felt it but i felt in the audience those of us who were sitting in a different configuration, i think it was less of a kind of a cheering squad for the president or a booing squad if you will. we just, i think it was kind of more grown up. i don't know. it just seemed more appropriate the way we were responding to the president. by the way, i just have to say, i don't know that, how he agrees but i found his speech for me it was visionary and inspiring. >> senator, as the chairman of the environment committee were you surprised that a democratic president could stand before you in a speech of that length and breadth and not mention climate change? >> well, lawrence, he didn't use
those words. but he absolutely addressed it. when he talked about his three priorities, one of them is clean energy. it's the same way as saying, we're going to combat climate change. when have you a million electric cars on the road which is his vision, and when you move to clean electricity, for 80% of americans, you really are talking about change here and, yes. he didn't say climate change. i think what the president is trying to do is bring us together so he stayed away from certain words and terms but i felt when he spoke about this including his priority of transportation, which is very important to moving us forward and getting cars off the road such as high speed rail he is addressing the issue of carbon pollution but didn't mention it per se. >> could you and other republicans support the additional spending the president was talking about in these kinds of projects senator
boxer was just referring to. >> again, i don't have any specifics on the spending. if it's just more spending we'll probably have some problems and very serious discussions about that. he also talked about public/private partnerships. he talked about rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. we missed the mark a year ago. you know, they didn't do a six-year bill. >> right. >> we had a delay there. we don't have people working. i think as a result of that. hopefully, they -- they are now convinced that we have to go forward for the long-term bill, get people working, take the funds that are coming in. barbara and i have say over a lot of funds when you go fill up your gas tank you are sending money to a trust fund. if that money is properly expended and that is what we're talking about and good projects and good investments is what we'll be for and i think we can do it together. >> yes i do too. we've already started those meetings.
i do think it is important to note that the president when he laid out t spending priorities also said he is going to cut spending in lots of other places. >> he did. >> it's true we don't know the details. >> we're going to look for ways to do it better, do more with less. we have to in this environment. and barbara and i may not be the best mathematicians but we can count. we need the votes to get this done for the country. >> we have to leverage. we have to leverage local dollars. for example, if a county or a city or a state where the voters say, yes. we'll pay a little more in taxes, we ought to help them by perhaps up fronting some of that money. these are ideas that have come to us from various people throughout america and i have a lot of buy in for example from my rafrnking member. so leveraging funds is very important too. >> do you think the republican caucus in the house of representatives is prepared to vote for congressman ryan's proposal on the long-term financing of social security and medicare which in effect
abolishes the program of social security for people under 55 as we know it and medicare and turns it into a voucher program? did that kind of radical change in social security and medicare, something you think most republicans can vote for? >> i think we have to do something. i've always believed that we could provide some investment alternatives. now, it can't be speculative things where people's money can be invested in something that doesn't have a return or is a solid investment but we can do a better job. right now we're putting that money into nonsecured certificates of investment to the united states, raiding the social security trust fund has to stop. >> this is where we disagree. because social security is one of the most successful programs in history. and when you go back and you read about how it came about, if we have followed this idea and privatized it before, i shudder
to think what would happen to it. so when something is working and you have senior citizenss coming out whether republicans or democrats, don't mess with my social security, i have a message for them. we're not. >> i think the discussion though was that we're not going to touch folks in the current system. but people coming in would have an alternative and i would not favor any speculative investment but there are solid investments backed by the security of the federal government at which they could get a better return and they would be better, we'd be better served in making certain they have income down the pike. at some point there is more -- look at us, barbara. we're not spring chickens anymore. >> wait a minute. speak for yourself. i cancel our date right now, america. >> we're going to hold it right there. i want you both back on another night to finish this social security debate. it's great to see you both
working on your committee assignments on transportation working on that together. >> thank you. >> thank you both for joining me tonight. we have the republican response and then michele bachmann gave the tea party republican response. republican congressman from illinois, joe walsh of the tea party caucus joins me. >> and yet as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, i know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on earth. an accident doesn't have to slow you down. introducing "better car replacement," available only with liberty mutual auto insurance -- if your car's totaled, we give you the money for a car one model year newer. to learn more, visit us today.
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michele bachmann gave the tea party response following the republican response much to the chagrin of republican majority leader eric cantor. a member of the tea party caucus in the house, republican congressman joe walsh is next. and the intern hero who helped save congresswoman giffords turned 21 today. he watched the address from the
back to sore knees. back to more pills. the day is done but hang on... her doctor recommended aleve. just 2 pills can keep arthritis pain away all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is lara who chose 2 aleve and fewer pills for a day free of pain. and get the all day pain relief of aleve in liquid gels. cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an over loaded airplane by removing its engine. it may make you feel like you're flying high at first but it won't take long until you feel the impact. >> never has a joke fallen more flat in a presidential address than a joke about a plane crash. joining me now tea party backed republican congressman from illinois joe walsh. congressman walsh, do you accept
congressman ryan's principle enunciated in his response tonight that the government does have to provide what he called a social safety net for people who cannot provide for themselves? >> i mean, no. it's not in the constitution, lawrence. but obviously we've gotten far away from where government did at least provide that safety net. i think the point that representative ryan is making that medicare, social security, a lot of the other government programs we've got right now have moved miles beyond the safety net. and we've got to have a real adult discussion as to how to deal with that ticking time bomb. >> and the adult discussion led by paul ryan includes in effect abolishing medicare as we know it and giving people who need it a voucher check of some kind to help them buy private health insurance in the private market when they are 65 and older. you understand that there is no
private health insurance to purchase in the private health insurance market for people 65 and older because their health care costs are in effect uninsurable and too expensive? hey, lawrence, what representative ryan is talking about is reform in these two entitlements so we can save them. look, i'm 49 years old. my generation and my kids' generation, we don't believe we're going to see a lick of social security let alone medicare. and the democrats have to be honest to that and put that on the table just like we all have to put things on the table like means testing and raising the retirement age. we've got to quit using these issues, lawrence, to hit each other over the head. >> well, congressman, for example on social security you are going to receive a lick. okay? if we do absolutely nothing, nothing at all, don't legislate any changes you when you retire will receive 75% of what you would be scheduled to receive. in other words the system will always be taking in money. remember the payroll tax will
always take in money so it'll be able to pay about 75%. what congressman ryan would do would cut the plan to less than 50% of what it would deliver now. >> because for me to receive a lick, and for my kids to receive a lick, my kids and my grand kids are going to be half -- have to be taxed at levels that are unacceptable. and i don't want to do that to them and most of the american people don't want to do that to them. this was my first state of the union and i got to be honest with you. i was excited going in. i left that chamber with a real empty feeling in my stomach because there was such a disconnect between what the president was talking about and i think where this country's at right now. >> do you think there is any possibility that the plan that congressman ryan is discussing will come to a vote in the house of representatives and that republicans will actually pass it? >> i think that republicans have got to get a little bit more nerve to get behind paul ryan.
no doubt, lawrence. i agree with you on that. we've been pretty mute, moot on what he's proposing. his road map is a courageous first step. and i think the republican party needs to get strong and get behind these reforms for social security and medicare. >> congressman paul brown, a tea party republican from georgia, did not attend tonight's speech and instead he sent out this tweet. mr. president, you don't believe in the constitution. you believe in socialism. now, paul ryan said that it is the government's duty to provide a social safety net for people who cannot provide for themselves. that is socialism. isn't it, congressman? >> you know, again, lawrence, i'm a tea party guy. i'm going to concur with you that there is no constitutional authority in that. but look. the president deserved -- i disagreed with virtually everything he said in this state of the union tonight. but out of respect of course
we've got to be there and listen to him out of respect for the office. but you talk about socialism, lawrence, i mean, my god. the debt and the deficit that this president has run up the last two years, if we don't change this course again, we're putting a debt on our kids and our grand kids that is unacceptable. paul ryan is taking a very courageous step in starting us down the road to addressing that problem. >> congressman joe walsh, thank you very much for joining us tonight. i think you can expect whatever procedural help you need from democrats to get paul ryan's plan to repeal and replace social security and medicare to come to a vote in the house. >> thank you, lawrence. >> thank you very much. still ahead progressives have been worried that president obama would cooperate too much with conservatives and leave their agenda behind. we'll get the progressive reaction from adam green, next. ready sensei.
members of congress are quickly reacting to the president's speech of course. republican senator scott brown of massachusetts tweeted, it wasn't a rah rah speech but it was balanced and hit on a lot of good points. what does the progressive wing of the democratic party say? adam green of the aggressive change campaign committee joins me next. later the inwho rushed to gabby giffords' side moments after she was shot was in the house chamber tonight and he gets the last word.
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if we truly care about our deficit, we simply can't afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of americans. before we take money away from our schools, scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break. >> we're back with more on the president's state of the union address. joining me now is adam green, cofounder of the progressive change campaign committee.
adam, the progressive reaction to this speech i know you had a lot to worry about in the last couple of weeks leading up to this speech. what's your reaction? >> there were some worries and i definitely have some critiques but would love to start off by identifying some of the high points i saw in the speech. number one of which you just showed right there. i actually identified if i could the top six moments from a progressive perspective. right there what president obama did was he connected the idea of tax cuts for millionaires to the deficit. and to proposed republican cuts. it is very important in the next couple years that every time republicans propose cutting anything that we go immediately back to the tax cuts for millionaires. they just passed and hold that around them and make them, you know, essentially tell the american people they would rather cut taxes for millionaires than say fund schools. that was great. number two, getting rid of the oil company subsidies. it was pretty bold of him to essentially call the oil companies the industry of
yesterday and say instead we have to invest in the future. that's kind of a slap in the face or much more than that, kind of a big insult to call an entire industry yesterday's news but he did it. i think a lot of americans were on his side. >> those subsidies are basically embedded in the tax code. there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of provisions in the tax code, it's mostly where they get their money out of the federal government. >> yeah. so him being able to take them on rhetorically and in policy is a good thing. you know, three, closing the corporate tax loopholes was another big thing he emphasized. four, this is something that i -- >> can i stop you on that? >> yeah. >> it's combined with then lowering the corporate rates so that you would net out with the same amount of revenue from corporate taxation. now, do you have any objection to that outcome where you clean up the deductions and the loopholes but you lower the rates so that you end up with the same revenue? >> are you intentionally trying to rush me to my critique of the speech? >> you keep going.
go ahead. you have the floor, sir. >> it's coming. a fourth thing he did right was actually make the case for why government can help people. so talking about regulation he said that he will not hesitate to create or enforce regulations that actually help people. he talked about how we can drink our water and eat our food because of regulation. it's important democrats be willing to make the case for why government can help people and the same with spending. you mentioned before that joke fell short but him saying that investment in our economy are like an engine on a plane and therefore we can't cut spending and consider spending necessarily evil. sometimes investments are smart. that is a good thing for a democratic politician to stand up for. >> here is how you do the airplane joke. you say the plane won't take off. you make it clear that this is not about a plane that is in the air so it doesn't become a plane crash joke. okay. >> i agree on that. >> go ahead. >> the final two, the investments in energy which really are inspirational, having a million electric cars on the road, massive investments in science and math, biomedical
research and stuff like that is great. and high speed internet, something near and dear to my heart. i think it would be great for democrats to propose wiring rural america and making that the face of our infrastructure program. and dare republicans especially from rural states to oppose spending on infrastructure. these are good things especially when many of the critiques of this president is his willingness on these several fronts to take on corporate power deserves praise. should we engage in the critiques, lawrence? >> take a breath. we'll take a break. and you can summarize your critiques more quickly when we come back after the break. we'll continue our conversation after a quick commercial break and later the last word goes to one of the guests of honor at tonight's state of the union. i'll talk with the most famous intern in america, daniel hernandez. >> we need to teach our kids
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the president didn't even mention gun and ammunition control. he didn't mention climate change. more of the progressive reaction next. and later the hero who watched the address inside the chamber on his 21st birthday. ♪ do not attempt at home. always wear your seat belt. ♪ and please drive responsibly. [ male announcer ] it's the most fun you can legally have. the powerful mercedes-benz c-class. and now, join us on facebook and take part in the world's first twitter-fueled race. [ male announcer ] every day thousands of people are switching from tylenol® to advil. here's one story. my name is jose.
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state of the union address with adam green of the progressive change campaign committee. adam, on social security, the president said he was opposed to slashing. that was his word. slashing social security benefits. it leaves me wondering, is it going to be okay with him to just trim them a little bit like just tweak the cola that adjusts the rate of increase in social security benefits? what do you think? >> i think you're a smart man for picking up on that word. i noticed it, too. you know, social security as you laid out before is really under siege by paul ryan and others in congress. they want to decimate social security, decimate medicare, hwan we needed from president obama tonight was a passionate defense of social security and medicare. so part of the critique from the progressive perspective tonight is that the one sentence that he said about medicare in his entire speech was essentially blaming medicare for the deficit. he said we need to reduce health
care costs including programs like medicare and medicaid which are the single biggest contributors to the long-term deficit. when the republicans bankrupt to come out swinging for medicare, we need a little bit more than that from a democratic president. medicare is helping millions and millions of people in their day-to-day lives and it deserves more of a defense. with social security, he kind of bought into the right wing framing that implied that we're in crisis with social security. as you pointed out before, people like that other congressman will have benefits. social security has a $2.5 trillion surplus. it's not even on the books, not even part of the deficit. meanwhile republicans are trying to use it in order, you know, as part of the deficit and saying we should slash it. we need pr president obama to say no as long as there are any tax cuts for millionaires we will not cut one dime from social security benefits but unfortunately he didn't make that case tonight and progressives in the weeks ahead will be urging him and others to be a little more passionate in their defense. >> adam, the history of medicare cutting is not a good one for
democratic presidents from your perspective. bill clinton cut medicare when the democrats controlled the congress. he then cut medicare even more when newt gingrich took over control of the congress. president obama is now studying bill clinton's presidency, the six years of it, that was -- that went under republican control of the congress. that's got to have you pretty concerned on the medicare front. >> it's a huge concern. and if president obama continues to march in the direction of making medicare cuts he will have a lot of very angry, progressive voters and independent voters not to mention republican seniors who happen to be on medicare. you know, in 2012. so we hope he understands that. >> when you listen to ryan, he didn't get into any specifics because his plan is absolutely radioactive if he said one specific sentence about it but when you actually look at his plan, as you have, i just don't see where the zone is that the president can reach any kind of compromise on something like
medicare when the departure point on the other side is what paul ryan is talking about. >> that's exactly right. the phrase that paul ryan said that caught my attention was that people in and near retirement will be protected. >> right. protected. yes. >> well, also that in or near retirement. that means people not near retirement will not be protected. and he was kind of glossing over that. that is a huge, huge des confirmation of medicare and social security that he is proposing and you called it correctly. this is really important to put our finger on. common ground is not always a good thing. when that is paul ryan's position, we don't want common ground with him. this is when democrats actually need to fight for popular values, progressive values like medicare and social security, which are overwhelmingly popular. and unfortunately tonight president obama didn't fight as hard as he could have. now it's great that he didn't actively propose cuts to social security, that allows us to fight another day and
preference. we are part of the american family. >> daniel hernandez, the brave intern who rushed to gabby giffords' side, rushed toward the gun fire, moments after she had been shot, was given the honor of sitting in with first lady michelle obama during this evening's state of the union address. his quick thinking is credited with helping keep gabby giffords alive. not far away, a chair sat vacant during the address. a silent tribute to the congresswoman as she continues her recovery in texas. tonight gabby giffords and her husband mark watched the speech from a rehabilitation facility in houston. for the first time, since the morning of the attack, giffords' twitter page was updated today. her staff sent out a message to just one person. from the entire giffords team, happy 21st birthday, daniel hernandez. sounds like you have fun plans tonight. joining me now from washington,
daniel hernandez, whose fun plans tonight include getting the last word on "the last word." thank you very much for joining me tonight, daniel. >> thanks for having me. >> okay. what was it like walking into that chamber being in the first lady's box for a state of the union address? >> it's definitely a humbling experience and i felt very honored to have the opportunity to sit there with the first lady but not only with the first lady but people from around the country who had amazing stories and that's why they were there so soaking in all of their stories and finding out why they were there was absolutely fantastic. >> you know, daniel, the first time i was in that chamber for one of those addresses i didn't hear anything the president was saying for the first ten minutes because i was just in awe of my surroundings and i couldn't concentrate on what we were there to listen to. did you take in the president's words or were you kind of drowning in the environmental, the overwhelming environmental influences around you?
>> it was very surreal. but once the applause seemed to go on forever at the very beginning and kind of waned and i started to focus on the words and was able to pick up on a lot of the things he had started back in tucson at the memorial like the one about family and coming together so it was very exciting to see him again emphasizing the same message. >> were you hoping to hear more in the president's message about something specific that he would want to do for example in the matter of controlling the sale of those magazine clips that allow for the extra bullets to have been fired, restoring that ban on those magazines that we used to have? >> no. i think the president did a good job of what he knew to discuss tonight. there's still going to be plenty of time where he can address issues like gun control but right now he needed to tell us where we were as a nation and where he wants us to move forward. but it's not the end all. there's plenty of time for him
to continue conversations so if something wasn't mentioned tonight i fully expect it to be brought up at some point in the future. >> you are joining forces with new york city mayor michael bloomberg who has been el tyen tyen on this issue. you're going to be here in new york tomorrow to speak out together on the issue of these kinds of gun control laws? >> i think tomorrow i'm actually just going to be in new york because he's actually giving me the great honor of present major league with the keys to new york so it's not specifically for that issue. >> so you will remain in these terms a congressional intern not someone who is going out there trying to make policy and not going out there trying to advocate policy? >> i can't wait to go back to my job with the congresswoman's office. >> daniel, can you ever? you are the most famous person in the office now. what's it like being the intern, the now 21-year-old intern, who is the most famous guy in the office? >> i don't see how that really
changes anything. there are still people that need help in the office with constituent services and i want to get back to work because that's what i know and love and i want to get back to helping people. >> i have to tell you i worked in the congressional staff for years and watching you carry yourself throughout this situation has reminded me of just how many great people are working in these offices, not just in the capitol but like you in the district offices, all over the country. you really have been a model to everyone who's working in that building behind you in the congress. >> thank you so much. >> and, daniel, you have, because you live on mountain time you've got two more hours of birthday as far as i'm concerned. so keep going. have fun in washington. daniel hernandez, thank you very much for spending part of your birthday with us tonight. >> thank you so much, lawrence. >> daniel got the last word. that is the last word. i'll be back here tomorrow live at 8:00 p.m. eastern. a live, late edition of the rachel maddow show is up next.